Whilst straw has been the traditional bedding material for horses for generations there are now a large number of alternatives available. Take a look and make your decision on availability, cost and your horses health.
Wheat straw makes excellent bedding, it's fairly inexpensive, readily available , absorbent, warm and rots down on the muck heap relatively quickly. Unfortunately it may be unsuitable for horses with a respiratory condition such as COPD.
Barley straw is brighter in colour than wheat straw and again will make excellent bedding but it is very palatable to equines and you may find your horse or pony is eating too much of their bed.
Oat straw is the least suitable for bedding as it can quickly become soaked, it's also very palatable and your horse or pony will probably eat their bed. Tends to be more expensive than wheat or barley straw.
Wood shavings are a very popular form of bedding especially for those using the deep litter method. 5 bales should start you off and you'll need a further 2 bales for topping up during the week. Wood shavings are absorbent and light to muck out but you should only use those especially produced for animal bedding to be sure that sharpe splinters and dust have been extracted and these can be expensive.
Wood pellets are dust extracted with a very low moisture content, water has to be added after they are put down to make them into a fluffy bed. Manufacturer's usually recommend starting a bed with between 8 and 12 ten kilo bags, solids and completely saturated areas should be removed daily and 1 or 2 bags should be added weekly. Can be cost effective when bought in bulk.
Shredded paper is absorbent, warm, dust free and can be cheap. But newsprint can mark your horse's coat, paper beds require more maintenance and shredded paper can blow around the stable yard in the wind.
Cardboard is often recommended by veterinary practices and equine welfare charities. It is completely dust free, absorbent and light to work with, it also helps keep horses cleaner than other bedding.
Makes a soft dust free bed with good absorbency but it should not be eaten and can swell in a horses stomach if eaten.
Miscanthus Elephant Grass
Miscanthus is a tall perennial grass that is chopped to make bedding for horses. Used for deep litter it is naturally low in dust and can absorb up to 3 times it's weight in liquid, it's said to be unpalatable to most equines due to it's course texture. Miscanthus elephant grass is also quick to rot and can be spread straight onto the land.